Better take a look at this.
Current Business and Financial Plan, (In the SBC Annual this sentence is in Article XIV. On SBCNet, which I have linked, the sentence is not in a numbered article but is on page 9 of the BFP.)
Members of cooperating Southern Baptist churches shall have access to information from the records of Southern Baptist Convention entities regarding income, expenditures, debts, reserves, operating balances, and salary structures.
Cooperating Southern Baptist churches have access through the Convention Annual to information from Convention entities regarding income, expenditures, debts, reserves, and operating balances. Additional inquiries may be made by official action of a cooperating Southern Baptist church. Such inquiries, including requests for salary structure information, may be submitted to the entity board and will be handled based on the entity board’s approved guidelines.
Note the changes:
Current BFP: “Members” of cooperating Southern Baptist churches shall have access to financial information, including salary structures.
Proposed BFP: “Cooperating Southern Baptist churches” may make inquiries if done “by official action” of the church.
Joe Southern Baptist may make a direct request for financial information from Convention entities. Our governing documents state that he “shall have access.” Legal minds may obfuscate the meaning of the word “shall” but is it unreasonable to expect that it means Joe asks and the entity answers?
The proposed BFP stiffs Joe and Jane Baptist, the guys who put checks in offering plates or make online tithes. They have to get their church to take official action. The BFP graciously says that the church “may” submit the inquiry to the entity. The inquiry is handled by the entity’s internal guidelines which may call for financial information on salaries to be secret and not to be given to an ordinary SBC church or members who pay the bills.
This change stinks, in my view. It devalues both Southern Baptist individuals and Southern Baptist churches. It makes the entity king and the inquirer a begging peasant. The HQ of the SBC may be said to be the local church but it isn’t demonstrated by this change.
Someone wrote the new paragraph. Who did it and why? Manifestly, salaries was pulled out for special treatment. Why? Did entity leaders, loath to allow ordinary Southern Baptists to know their compensation, lobby for and have this change inserted?
We pay for this. We should know.
How about an explanation why individual Southern Baptists are to be ignored? How about an explanation on why a cooperating SB church has to come hat-in-hand and beg for information from the entities we fund?
The BP report says that the new BFP was a product “…of a collaborative effort that included an ad hoc committee, EC staff, EC attorneys and entity CEOs, CFOs and general counsels.” Some EC members, some EC paid staff, a bunch of attorneys, and paid denominational employees – entity CEOs and CFOs created this document. Would any of you want to stand up for this change and explain it to ordinary Baptists like me who pay the bills? Probably not. Stuff happens behind closed doors in our beloved convention, and that’s the way it’s gonna be.
Baptist Press, in perhaps the most brazen questionable statement made under the new administration, wrote that, …”the reworked Business & Financial Plan focuses on a desire to create more clarity, more transparency and more accountability among SBC entities and the Executive Committee. ” The least BP could have done is to note a few of the major changes. This is one. Crickets from BP on it.
More transparency and accountability, you say? Please expand on that.
Would the entity CEOs please justify the change highlighted above?
Would the three remaining SBC presidential candidates, and the current president, please comment on this change? Randy Adams, predictably, has panned it already.
I have long maintained a consistent position that SBC entity heads should regularly disclose their compensation and do so publicly where it can be accessed by SBC headquarters and members thereof. Seems like we are moving in the wrong direction here. The entities should be required by the BFP to do this, each year with their other financial reports.
A future vision of a $500 million Cooperative Program is being promoted. This kind of backroom stuff doesn’t help that. Confidence in our leaders and entities is diminished by this.
It may be that my day is past, that only a few whiners and misfits think SBC churches and members ought to know entity leader salaries. The others on the Voices team, best I can recall from previous discussions, prefer secret compensation figures and agreements. I’m still awaiting a persuasive argument why these should be withheld from Southern Baptists. Every public corporation publishes this stuff. Non-church charities have to report this. We don’t. We should.